May 2020 – Inspector’s letter
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SUPPORTERS!!
Big news this week! West Tey and West of Braintree have been found UNSOUND!!! This is amazing news for residents who have lived in the shadow of the loss of 5,600 acres of countryside and car-dependent dormitory sprawl on an enormous scale.
Unfortunately, for those who have campaigned against it, including CAUSE, the inspector said that a garden community East of Colchester could be made sound He advised either dropping West Tey and West of Braintree (which has to be consulted on), and accepting his modifications (not yet known) OR withdrawing the plan.
It is extremely likely that the authorities will take the first option.
Here is the letter: https://www.braintree.gov.uk/downloads/file/9294/ied022_-_inspectors_post-hearing_letter_to_neas_-_15th_may_2020
Braintree District is in a particularly difficult position. It has been left without a garden community. Braintree’s Leader has set out his thoughts in an open letter: https://www.braintree.gov.uk/localplanopenlettermay202
Response to this, as a letter to the paper, is as follows:
Braintree’s Leader, Graham Butland, has expressed disappointment, in an open letter, that some of the Planning Inspector’s judgements about West of Braintree garden community were based on ‘fine margins’.
Let’s look at the Inspector’s findings.
Mr Clews actually says that West of Braintree is BELOW or AT BEST at the margins of viability. He reminds us that this is contrary to the advice of planning guidance. This isn’t judgement. It is national planning guidance. He is doing his job.
Let’s look next at what Mr Clews says about those landowners and developers who Mr Butland says are willing to bring the project forward.
The inspector notes that these willing developers wish to provide less infrastructure than the authorities require, that they do not phase the infrastructure payments (thus meaning that infrastructure would not come first) and that they apply only a 10% contingency. Those willing developers are not in the game of providing the utopian garden community lifestyle we are promised.
And finally, let’s look at the rapid transit system. The inspector found that the route connecting West of Braintree to the outside world is undeliverable. That means everyone would have to drive. The authorities’ costs have been found to be far too low, do not include land acquisition or structures, and have an inadequate contingency.
None of this sounds like an inspector making judgements based on fine margins. It sounds like an inspector doing his job thoroughly and examining the evidence submitted.”
Delays to Braintree’s Local Plan have been a disaster for the district. Developers have had carte blanche to develop, under a government clause which allows development if there is no plan in place (or no five year supply of housing land). Our money has been wasted, with around £8 million diverted to the garden communities project.
The failuire of the local plan does not need to lead to further sprawl. Braintree already has (more than) enough land allocated to meet need until 2033, the end of the plan period. The Section 2 plan should be examined as soon as possible.
Now CAUSE (Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex) believes it is time to do things differently.
- Involve local people. Engage properly & listen to feedback;
- Put the environment & sustainable travel at the heart of any future plan;
- Plan for what we need. Revisit all assumptions about infrastructure and affordable housing.
Oh, and stop wasting money on NEGC Ltd. It should be wound up with immediate effect.
Consultation now closed: I want to respond Summer 2019 consultation
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